The Punjab Police has booked Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and his banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) for “seditious automated calls aimed at instigating the people, particularly youth, against the Punjab government during the COVID-19 lockdown”.
“Two cases were registered against Pannun and US-based SFJ under Section 124 A of IPC, and Sections 10 (a) and 13 (1) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, at the State Special Operations Cell (SSOC), Mohali on Friday,” said Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta.
According to Varinder Pal Singh, AIG, SSOC, “Preliminary enquiries have revealed that Pannun was involved in the commission of seditious acts of advocating secession of Punjab through automated calls as well as pre-recorded audio messages to various residents of state and nearby areas in March and April, with the intention to foment trouble in Punjab. Since the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, Pannun, his associates and his organization were found incessantly disseminating seditious contents on social media to further frustrate and instigate the already anguished and distressed masses of Punjab.”
The AIG said that in one such recorded audio message, sent from an international number (+1-8336101020) of North America region, Pannun instigated the listener by alleging that the central government and the Punjab government were torturing the youth in the name of enforcing the ongoing curfew-lockdown in the State due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The pre-recorded interactive voice response (IVR) messages as well as audio messages to the people of Punjab belonging to various walks of life from New York (USA) are being made for pushing the secessionist agenda of his self-styled organization Sikhs for Justice, said the AIG.
“In one audio call, recorded by an informer, Pannun is heard asking people to vote for SFJ if they are in agreement with the policies of the organisation by pressing ‘1’ or pressing ‘2’ if they are in agreement with the policies of the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Punjab. Further investigation was underway to unearth the full conspiracy,” said the AIG, accusing Pannun of taking advantage of the prevailing crisis.
Pannun, who claims to be calling from New York, was also heard offering monetary help of Rs. 2000 from SFJ to each of the COVID-19 patients in Punjab.
SFJ was declared to be an ‘Unlawful Association’ by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India on July 10 as it was found to be indulging in activities which are prejudicial to internal security of India and public order, and have the potential of disrupting peace, unity and integrity of the country.
“Furthermore, the central government was of the opinion that SFJ is involved in anti-national and subversive activities in Punjab and elsewhere, intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. SFJ was also found to be in close touch with militant outfits and activities, and is supporting violent form of extremism and militancy in Punjab and elsewhere to carve out a sovereign Khalistan out of territory of Union of India,” said a police spokesperson.
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